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Kelso Dunes Road
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Kelso Dunes Road
Kelbaker Rd at Kelso Dunes sign (view S)

Overview

Kelso Dunes Road is a dirt road in the south-central part of Mojave National Preserve that provides access to the Kelso Dunes trailhead and several primitive campsites. The road usually is washboarded, but under normal conditions, the road should be fine in a sedan.

The road runs across desert flats carpeted with creosote bush, so the vistas are long and nothing gets in your way.

Link to map.

Kelso Dunes Road
Kelbaker Rd approaching Kelso Dunes Rd (view S)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about the desert, ... the road can be a bit rough from the washboards, but should be passable in a sedan. Use your own good judgment about the road conditions, as the road is subject to washouts.

While out in the desert, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, the area is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Kelso Dunes Road
Kelso Dunes Rd (view W from Kelbaker Rd)

Getting to the Road

This road is located in Mojave National Preserve, about 1-3/4 hours south of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to the Kelso Depot Visitor Center in Kelso. In Kelso, turn left onto Kelbaker Road, drive south across the railroad tracks, and continue towards Interstate-40 for 7.8 miles to Kelso Dunes Road on the right. Highway signs announce the turn. The road is just before several tin buildings that can be seen from a long ways off. Turn right onto Kelso Dunes Road.

Kelso Dunes Road
Kelso Dunes Rd (view W; note dunes in distance)

The Road

From Kelbaker Road at Kelso Dunes Road (Site 0838), the dirt road runs straight and generally west, aiming towards the south of the dune field. At about 2.5 miles out, the road bends a bit to the left, and shortly (2.9 miles out) arrives at a pullout with restrooms (Site 0121) on the right. This is the Kelso Dunes Trailhead, which is just southeast of the highest dunes.

Continuing, the road passes a primitive campsite area on the left (3.2 miles out), then bends again and comes to a 3-way fork (3.8 miles out). Kelso Dunes Road curves right towards the dunes and quickly arrives at another primitive campsite (4.0 miles out) with tall athel trees that provide the only shade for miles around.

Kelso Dunes Road

Continuing, the road ends about 100 yards beyond the campsite at two day-use parking areas. There is deep, soft sand in this area, so without 4WD, don't drive past the campsite. In my jeep, I drove the road in 2WD, but got stuck here and had to shift into 4WD to get out.

Back at the 3-way fork, the other two roads continue west (parallel) about 0.3 miles and end, although two side roads cut north into the camp area.

Kelso Dunes Road
Approaching overflow parking? (view W)
Kelso Dunes Road
Restrooms; trailhead must be close (view NW)
Kelso Dunes Road
Approaching Kelso Dunes Trailhead (view W)
Kelso Dunes Road
Kelso Dunes Trailhead (view W)
Kelso Dunes Road
Kelso Dunes Trailhead (view NW)
Kelso Dunes Road
Start of Kelso Dunes Trail (view N)
Kelso Dunes Road
Restrooms and trash cans at trailhead
Kelso Dunes Road
Kelso Dunes Road (view W)
Kelso Dunes Road
Approaching 3-way fork (view W)
Kelso Dunes Road
Right-most of the three forks (view NW)
Kelso Dunes Road
Arriving in the primitive camp area (view N)
Kelso Dunes Road
primitive campsite (view S)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0121 Kelso Dunes Parking 618950 3861679 34.89233 115.69824 2,789 Yes
0838 Kelbaker Rd at Kelso Dunes Rd 623497 3862721 34.90118 115.64833 2,815 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130611

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